A stirring.

Something is stirring. For 10 years I have walked the streets of the Point area of Durban, loving and caring for the women and girls who are residents of those streets. One street in particular is incredibly dark. Pickering street is run by mafia, drug lords, pimps and traffickers. Crime and violence has been the norm for years and over the past 4 years it has gotten so much darker.

4 years ago the “church people” were banned from the shelters, no longer allowed to go in to feed and care for the homeless, vulnerable residents. Drug addiction and crime sky rocketed, the sex trade and trafficking kicked up a gear, things got out of control. Even the police had written off the street.

And I am also guilty of walking away from Pickering. As I write that my heart drops, I am guilty of believing that Pickering wasn’t worth fighting for. That her residents were too far gone.

I was determined that the only way to “save” our girls is to remove them from Pickering. This week everything changed. EVERYTHING.

I spent most of Monday morning on Pickering street getting my car window fixed by a Burundian refugee. As I stood in the blazing heat, skin getting burnt and body seriously in need of shelter and water, something shifted in my soul. I watched the street living and breathing for 4 hours. Dealers making their exchanges with addicts. Girls getting in and out of clients cars. Children weaving in and out of parked cars, chasing each other. 2 elderly Gogos cooking fish on coals. A number of young refugee men fixing cars in the street. And me. And suddenly I felt at home again.

On Monday I stood and watched 14 of my girls and their babies trying to live live outside on the street. Their shelter had been closed down a few day ago and they could not afford to stay in the more expensive shelter next door. So here they were, all their belongings out on the street, trying to make the best of a terrible situation. I sat with them on the sidewalk as they bathed their babies and did their laundry, right there on the street. I took a couple of the toddlers with me to the grocery store and got everyone some food. But a few food items are not going to make much of a difference, I knew that something had to be done. So I decided to book all of them into the more expensive shelter for 2 nights. 2 nights because that is all we could afford.

But that also was not enough. So I did a facebook post and asked for help. Pretty soon we had them covered for a week. God is so good.

As I book the girls and their babies into the shelter the manager informs me that this shelter is also closing down on the 28th of February. When it closes close to 200 vulnerable people will be sleeping outside on the streets, many of which are women and children. I felt sick when I heard this. There are no answers for our girls. No help. Nothing. I was angry and frustrated as I drove home. What can I do Father? You love them more than I do, help them.

That night I had a dream. In my dream I was standing on Pickering street with my pastor from New York. I asked Pastor Bill “what should I do?” And he replied “be the light. Just BE it!”

As we stood on Pickering facing this more expensive shelter building, Victoria Lodge, light started to shine out of the Windows. Suddenly it was a lighthouse, guiding my girls to safety. Away from the drug dealer, away from the pimps, away from the clients. Leading them to the Father.

On Tuesday I had to return to Pickering street for my refugee friend to finish fixing my window. I walked into Victoria Lodge to check on the girls. And the manager informed me that the owner wants to sell up and get rid of the building… she didn’t know how much. Didn’t know when or how, but the owner is done with the place and and to get rid of it. Something started to stir. I felt a smidgen of hope rise in me. Could it be possible? Could Victoria Lodge become Hope’s Harbour? Father, what is your plan?

Now I don’t have any money. Like nothing. So I know that if this happens it is 100% the Father. And I know that miracles happen, I’ve seen them, but this one is MASSIVE. So I send my team a message, tell them everything and just ask for them to pray.

Last night Geela and I go to Victoria Lodge to pay for the girls rent and as I am talking to people about the place being a lighthouse I look up and see the picture above painted on the wall of the entryway of the building.

A LIGHTHOUSE!!!! WHAAAATTTTT?!?!?!?!

Father are you serious? A lighthouse painted on the wall, hidden by old beds and doors. We move the rubble out of the way and see that not only is there a lighthouse but it has a light shining.

So there is a stirring, a shifting, please pray. Please lift the situation to the Father and trust for a miracle with us. Our girls deserve this.

There is an urgency and the Father knows. We trust Him.

Who cares?

Some days I just don’t know. Like I feel like I literally know nothing. About anything. Last night and today have been one of those days.
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She is 19, has the mental age of around 11. Has very worrying behaviors, has no family. She came to us last night, she is 4-5 months pregnant and now HIV+. Due to her developmental disabilities she is not registering any of this information. One of our other girls tries to translate everything into Zulu so She can understand. As she translates she fights back the tears. Heart broken for this young girl. “She’s so young, she doesn’t understand, she can not have this baby.” She cries to me. I know baby girl I know.
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She has been sleeping on the beach, turning tricks for food, for survival. Last night we put her in a safe shelter, and today I personally covered her until Monday. But we spent today calling organizations, so called “places of safety” and each one told us that she does not meet their criteria….. sorry but WHAT THE HELL???!!!!
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Every man who paid her for sex was actually raping her, she does not have the mental capacity to consent to sex, she has mental health issues, severe ones, and these men are abusing her, giving her HIV and making her pregnant, and she does not meet the criteria of your organization???!!!!
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There are so many words I could use right now.
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Today I don’t know anything. I don’t know who really cares. I don’t know who actually does what they say that they do. I don’t know where all the money goes that these organizations raise in the name of caring for abused women, when they can not find a place for this highly vulnerable girl and her unborn child because they “do not meet our criteria”.
I JUST DONT KNOW.
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We REALLY need a property for our precious ladies because it seems that no one else really cares.
#unconditionallove #extravagantgrace #hopeforthesoul #durbansextrade #weseeyouweloveyou

The fight

Last night we were early to meet our girls, so I went and stood in the ocean. I needed to feel the sand between my toes and the water hitting my legs. I needed to breathe.
I have committed my life to fighting for those who have given up. For those who have had the fight knocked out of them. Precious individuals who have lived lives of severe abuse and trauma. Those who have been drowning in despair and pain their whole lives.
Many people do not understand this commitment. When girls jump the fence of rehab, or they fail over and over again, it’s hard for people to understand why I keep fighting for them.
When for years I invest my love, energy, money, only for the individual to yet again run away and hide, either physically or emotionally, why don’t I give up?
I’ll tell you why… because He has NEVER given up on me. Not once have I fallen so far that Love couldn’t come and pick me up. Not once.
I fail daily. Every day I have to ask LOVE for help, for forgiveness. And every day His Grace is sufficient.
So many are confused as to why I fight for the addicts. Why I believe in them and their futures. When so often that same addict runs away from their job, their church or their family.
I have committed to fighting. And this commitment is for life. It’s not a seasonal decision, it’s not a decision for when things are going well. It’s a commitment for life.
Today one of my dear friends has been under heavy spiritual attack, the enemy does not want her to succeed. He is trying to throw her past in her face and distract her from what LOVE is calling her to. We talked, we prayed, we fight.
I’ve walked this journey with her for 10 years. She has failed over and over, she lives on the edge of quitting. On the brink of returning to what she knows best, drugs and street life. It’s a fine line and years of trauma and abuse keep trying to pull her backwards. But I WILL FIGHT.
For generations there has been a battle for the hearts of her family. Grandparents, parents, siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins, children, Satan has had a field day destroying them.
We say “enough is enough”. This pattern of addiction, poverty and pain stops now.
#unconditionallove

Living in Africa.

There is a level of frustration and exhaustion that comes hand in hand with living in Africa.

It’s hard to explain to anyone who has never lived on this continent.

There is a constant power struggle, racial tension and classism (not a real word) that is simmering at all times. It drains me and it makes ministry life harder than most other places.

We are still fighting for our work visas, getting to Home Affairs at 3am in order to get seen by an official, only to be faced with a racist torrent of “go back to your own country”.

They do not care that our children are African. Black African. In fact they are angry that these white people have black children. It is held against us. It’s exhausting.

I miss the safety of the streets of New York. The hustle is the same here, but as a woman with no car I’m so much more vulnerable. I find myself walking the streets of Durban, from meeting to meeting, random men rubbing up against me, asking favors of this out of place female. Last week while walking down town to a meeting a group of men stopped me at the street crossing to ask me about my tattoos, then 2 of them proceeded to stroke my arms. Thankfully the traffic lights changed and I was able to cross away from them, as they catcalled after me.

But then at the next crossing a frail old Gogo took hold of my hand and asked me to help her to cross the street. She held my hand for 3 blocks, kissed my hand, told me “ngiyabonga ngane yami” (thank you my child) and hobbled into the market, the market that I long to go in but can’t because I am an “mlungu” (white person)

I have finally started to fall in love with my city, it’s taken 14 years, but I am getting there. The more time I spend walking her streets the more I uncover her true identity. A beautiful city who has endured years of abuse from those who claim to love her.

Art deco apartment buildings now degraded to squats. Beaches covered in hypodermic needles and trash. Homeless bodies sleeping everywhere.

Her beauty tarnished by years of abuse. Maybe restorable, maybe not.

Durban I love you. I love your streets, as dirty and dangerous as they are. I love your architecture, even though so much of it is in shambles. I love your people, as broken as they are. Durban I love you. I believe in you. I will continue to care for your broken women. I promise to love them, to fight for them. I promise that I will continue to love you beautiful Durban.

if you would like to support our family and the work we do here in South Africa please go to

http://www.justgiving.com/kingsroadchurch

or PayPal at downseyluff@aol.com

thank you x